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Allison W.

I put my bag of dive gear on my “donate” pile back in April as I was packing up my house. I had a fresh DD214 in my hand and I needed to make a clean break from Fort Bragg.  That’s the story I told myself over and over as I shoved all my memories and household goods into boxes. I didn’t think I’d need that gear ever again. After all, I hadn’t been diving in over a decade and it was just more stuff I would need to move.

I blasted a Facebook message out to my old friend Rick. I knew he was an avid diver and recently founded Task Force Poseidon. I figured he would know a female diver or two who would love to have some gear and I’d have one less box to move. Win, win. Rick got right back to me, but instead of passing me a name and address to donate my gear to, he asked me one very simple question. “Why don’t you want to dive anymore?”

Truthfully, I didn’t have a reason, or any excuses, as to why I wasn’t diving anymore. I loved diving. I dove a ton overseas, in spite of sketchy training and unconventional dive platforms.  I just hadn’t done my due diligence Stateside for whatever reason.  I had simply tossed my stuff in the closet and went on about Army business and deployment life for the next twelve years or so.

The longer I chatted with Rick that day about diving, the more my energy and enthusiasm for it came back.Diving wasn’t something I needed to forget, but rather something I needed to revisit and reinvent in this next chapter of my life.Rick and I kept in contact and before I knew it, I was headed to Destin, Florida to get back underwater with Emerald Coast SCUBA and Task Force Poseidon.

I was super excited to meet the other people in my class. We definitely had some candid group chats leading up to the trip and I couldn’t wait to put names with faces. More than that, I was grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by other veterans who spoke the same language and shared common experiences again. My transition from Army to civilian life was rough, both physically and mentally but knowing I would be in the company of like-minded, kindred spirits for the next four days was a big breath of fresh air. No SCUBA pun intended.

Day one at Emerald Coast SCUBA did not disappoint. The group of divers and instructors I met that day was nothing short of remarkable and I will continue to draw inspiration and motivation from each of them for as long as my memory will let me. We were undoubtedly a motley bunch covered in tattoos and scars, but the energy we gave to one another over the course of four days was palpable. Safe to say, we will all meet again sometime soon at the bottom of the sea and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

We fought hard with Mother Nature our first two days in the pool. Fortunately, not even a few stops for lightning kept us from doing what was required of us to graduate to open water. Although diving in a 90-degree pool might not seem like much to some, it was where we forged our confidence in our equipment, one another and our instructors. It was no different than any other bit of Army training, albeit without any yelling.

The amount of courage and fortitude I saw from my classmates over those two days was really remarkable. I watched a classmate hesitant to put her face in the water on day one meet us at the bottom of the deep end with confidence on day two. I watched another classmate in a wheelchair become weightless underwater and swim as gracefully (or ungracefully) as the rest of us. All I could think was how fortunate I was to be in the company of this group. That was really where a part of my soul that was missing for a long time started to come back.

Day three and four rolled around and the SCUBA Gods showed favor on us and gave us two great days of weather for open water diving.  The crew of the famous Aquanaut took great care of us and got us to our dive sites in short order. In spite of the great weather on top, the conditions down below on day one were less than favorable. I guess the SCUBA Gods needed to remind us things aren’t always perfect, but we can still get the job done. Murky water and low visibility stared us right in the face at the bottom of the anchor line on the first dive. Nonetheless, we had purpose, and a mission, and we didn’t let massive schools of baitfish or strong currents keep us from demonstrating our competency underwater.

The last day of diving took us to the wreck of the Miss Louise and the old Destin bridge rubble. Both structures supported a ton of marine life and the visibility and current was much more favorable than the day before. Once we knocked out the last of our skills at the site of the Miss Louise, we got to tour her from all angles and see an old tug in her new underwater life teaming with sea life. She was arguably much more beautiful in her life underwater than when she worked on top.

The dive on the Destin bridge rubble was our opportunity to finally just dive. There were no more skills to demonstrate. This was our dive to just look around and see what the ocean had for us. I kept a good eye on my dive buddy who was just as enthralled as I was. I knew I had been given an incredible gift and I hated to see it come to an end. We stayed on those giant pieces of concrete for as long as we could.

The thing that always struck me about diving was the stillness and the quiet. It’s just you and the sound of your breath. I was so glad to have found that stillness again, exactly when I needed it. I always likened it to the moment the parachute opens when things get quiet except for the sound of the wind. The difference with diving being no hard landings!

I can’t say enough about what Task Force Poseidon and Emerald Coast SCUBA have done for me. I felt like I was part of a team again and I desperately needed that. I needed to be a good teammate, a mentor and to be able to encourage others again. It’s what I’ve been missing since I retired and for a few days, I got it back. My hope from this point forward is that I can share this experience with as many people as I can in this new chapter of my life in the hopes they also find the peace that I find when I’m diving.

Keith W.

For over 20 years I have wanted to learn scuba diving, but things always seemed to stop that. Like being way overweight, my disabilities, and my wife’s fear of water and boats due to childhood trauma. Life happens, but I finally realized you need to pursue what you want.

I found Task Force Poseidon and talked with the Director Mr. Hayes and he answered every question I had and more. With his help, I realized my disability didn’t need to stop me from experiencing the underwater world and that, in fact, it could help with a lot of issues if I would just go and try it. Next thing I know my wife and I are off to Destin, Florida!

We met up with divemasters Jason and Anna at Emerald Coast Scuba in Destin, Florida. We felt like family immediately. With a good size group, we all received individual attention to ensure all instructions was mastered. They’re the best instructors one could ask for, their patience and their communication ability was unparalleled. Plus we got to geek out some with the ability to see and dive off the Aquanaut (the boat in the original Jaws II movie) and that just added to a great trip.

After the in-pool sessions, it was time to go to the open water. I was a bit nervous, but with Jason, Anna, and the other crew members my nervousness faded fast. I got in the water and everything seemed to disappear. The pain was in the past, anxiety seemed to disappear as well as any other issue I have. It was a feeling of weightlessness and the aquatic life was all that mattered, and it was very calming.

The pain and things stayed away for a bit after the dive and the camaraderie among fellow divers is great.

Now I am excited to continue my education in the underwater world. I am in hopes to see and take some more classes with Emerald Coast Scuba. I plan on a lot of underwater adventures, my new treatment plan.

Aurora W.

As husband and wife of almost 20 years, we have found that where one of us is weak, the other is strong. Our fears and perceived inability to do things have created limits on many possible intriguing events. My fears have held back what my husband has wanted to do for some time- scuba dive. Boats and open water, though I loved to look at them, are something I have never wanted to be a part of. Oddly enough, I love ocean life; sharks being one of my favorite creatures since childhood. My kids grown, husband and I have decided it was time to open some doors and experience the water life!

He did all the research and made calls/emails to various people and found Task Force Poseidon. The Director, Mr. Rick Hayes, was so helpful with all the questions and was awesome at getting things started. Next thing we know, it’s time to go!

We met with the team (and eventually, a family!) at Emerald Coast Scuba in Destin and were instantly comfortable. That was strange enough considering we had a large group and we aren’t much into being in “crowds”. Anxiety about the tasks to come would be my only issues. The first day I was upset and frustrated, even though they took me aside to help me while the rest finished their tasks as they needed. I was letting my fear of water get to me and couldn’t get out of my own head no matter how patient the divemaster was with me. The next day I resigned myself to just deal with my fears one at a time. Call it out, address the reasons, and try to finally take the next step past it. The Divemaster, Anna, was brilliant and patient, and by the end of the day, I was excited to do more!

The first time on a boat in a long time, for me, was one of my other issues. Walking toward it, I reminded myself how I managed the pool tasks. I certainly didn’t think I had it in me to drop off the side of it, willingly, until Anna asked. Some experiences just have to be had first-hand. The funniest part, I believe, is that I think I prefer to drop off the side than the big step off the back. Take THAT, silly fear! Fear couldn’t stop me from getting on the boat and couldn’t stop me from being in the water. I had even more fun once I got to play with the fish. All the pictures and videos I used to love so much about ocean life just didn’t compare to this.

I’m not going to say it was the smoothest, easiest thing I have ever done in my life, but I’m so extremely happy I had the chance to do it. Thanks to Task Force Poseidon and Emerald Coast Scuba. Now I want to go out and see more, take pictures, and do cleanups once I have learned all I need, and I can’t wait to start!

 

David V. U.S. Army Parachute Rigger

Two weeks to Dive…

Ever since I joined the military, I became an adrenaline “junkie.”  Especially being an airborne parachutist. I like to be active, to do new things, to get riled up, and to experience what others dream about. But what I never thought of was how to find an adrenaline rush that could also calm me down. I know, it sounds weird. But let me tell you that it exists! It is called scuba diving. I have always been intrigued with the idea of doing some diving; but it was something that was way out of my budget. After doing some research on scuba diving courses near me, I found out that my answer was right in front of me. Rick Hayes is a Retired Warrant Officer that used to work in the unit that I’m assigned to, and I met him while doing some hurricane relief efforts in Panama City Beach, FL just a few months ago. I found out that he has founded a nonprofit organization called Task Force Poseidon (TFP), which helps veterans with disabilities get their open water scuba diving certification. I thought to myself, ¨this might be my answer,¨ and decided to ask him about it. I started with the truth about me—I noticed that his organization focused on disabled veterans and told him that I was just an “enabler” that supported the “real operators.” I thought I was going to get declined, but I didn’t. Rick reached out at a later time to tell me that I was going to attend the December course at Emerald Coast Scuba (ECS) in Destin, FL. That’s when it hit me—I had 2 weeks to dive!

 

On top of attending the classes, I had to do the online training portion. Most people tend to do a module every night for 5 days, but I was so excited that I was doing a module and a half every night. Then, I would have to go to Emerald Coast Scuba to take the other part. When I first got there I went in at the wrong door—ha! I went in upstairs rather than the showroom. This turned out to be a good thing; as I was greeted by Ms. Anna and Jason—who happens to be Rick’s friend. He then took me downstairs and introduced me to my instructor, Sean Coppedge.  He reminded me of the big turtle from Finding Nemo—full of water knowledge and groovy-talking at the same time. The first thing he asked me was, “do you have any equipment?” I was like, “oh snap, first day of school and I’m about to get kicked out already!” He told me not to worry, and provided me with all the equipment I needed for the class. He even told Jason to open a brand new mask that was donated by Oceanic brand to the nonprofit; I treated that mask like it was one of my kids, ha!

 

The first two classes were in a pool. They were filled with a lot of refreshers from the online classes, but it was interesting to actually reenact what I was reading at night. Two things I will not forget: it was 50 degrees outside but the pool was heated to 90 degrees; and my first breath underwater. Breathing underwater was a feeling on steroids, ha! All of your senses become more sensitive—especially your hearing; but breathing underwater made me stay focused on every task given. I was out of my element, but I was trying to perform to the best of my abilities. I even learned how to make “O’s” underwater, ha! The first day, we had to cut the class short because of lightning, but we picked back up the following morning. I couldn’t believe I was about to do a real open water dive the following week.

 

Week 2 was awesome. It was in the 50’s, but the water was 68 degrees. It was still cold for me, but ECS provided me with two wetsuits that were my saviors. I was determined. So determined, that I forgot to do my buddy check (bad juju)!  When I corrected myself, it took me back to one of my trainings in the Army, NTC—when I did my PCC’s and PCI’s with the operators, they got in a big circle and went one by one checking from top to bottom that everything was in order. Everything has to be in complete and perfect order while diving, because a fun time can turn into a bad time in a split second. I got in the water, and Sean then told us that he’d meet us at the bottom. My first thought was to hover, so I wouldn’t crash at the bottom—I didn’t.  I, for the first time ever, experienced total quiet and peace, with one of the greatest adrenaline rushes I’ve ever had. I felt like I was flying! Sean then took us on our first dive and it was sensational! I didn’t even feel cold, with everything that was happening. There were fish swimming around us, and it felt so peaceful. It felt short, but we were in the water for a hot minute.

 

The next day, I was ready to experience calmness one more time, and then Rick showed up, ha! I remember he told me he was going to dive with me, but I got kind of anxious before I got in the water because I felt that I could not make a mistake in front of the person that helped me get here. Man I was wrong—Rick pulls out his GoPro and underwater we go! I even forgot he was there half the time; I was so focused on my diving buddy and the experience that I didn’t have a chance to mess up. It felt so natural and relaxed. Once we got done with our course, we headed back to ECS to turn in our gear; it literally felt like graduating a military school and turning in your gear to head home. That Sunday, I became an open water scuba diver graduate.

 

On my way home, I kept reflecting upon all the veterans that miss out on an opportunity like this one because of lack of funds, PTSD insecurities, or because they are missing a part of the body and feel that they are unable to perform. Task Force Poseidon proved to me that no matter your limitations—whether mental, physical or both; you can experience peace and adrenaline at the same time underwater. Diving is such a great therapy for both mind and body (you get a nice workout out of it-ha!) that there should be more organizations focusing on this type of exercise to help our veterans. If you’re reading this and meet this criteria, please reach out to Task Force Poseidon to experience what others dream of, and get one of the best ultimatums of your life: “2 weeks to Dive.”

 

Also, I got to keep the Oceanic Mask; I thought it was for everybody in the organization to use for school but turns out it was a gift. I’m really appreciative of it. I hope to dive again with you soon!

Brian S. Air Force TACP

The first open water dive I got to do with Emerald Coast Scuba and Task Force Poseidon, I showed up at the brief time and Jason went with me down to the dock where the boat was waiting. Nevin and Tom were already loading the boat with tanks and equipment. We waited for the other divers to finish boarding the boat before I was the last one on. Tom and Nevin, on the boat; and Jason, on the dock, simply lifted me down onto the back of the boat while seated in my chair. It went super smooth. The back of the boat gave me ample room to wheel around and position myself near my gear. We motored out to the dive site through the Jetties, and I tend to get seasick—so I began to prepare myself accordingly.

         I was to be with the first group in the water. Jason would go in first to wait for me. Being on a new boat, there is always a new routine to get down, in regards to entering and exiting the water. The crew made it super easy. I simply wheeled to the back of the boat, and raised my arms Tom got under one, Nevin under the other, and simply picked me up and sat me on the back of the boat with my feet draped over the edge. My gear, which was already rigged up to go, was placed behind me and I strapped myself in. Finally, after donning my mask and reg and doing a quick check to make sure the air was on; I simply held my mask and reg with one hand, and fell forward into the water. Jason made sure everything was good, hooked a buddy line onto me, and swam me over to the anchor cable. Having never dove with Nitrox before, we wanted to ensure everything felt correct. This was also the first time Jason would get to see me in open water and how my body moved—just using my upper body, as I am a T6 paraplegic. We had my legs strapped together at the thighs and ankles with Velcro straps, as it was found my legs still “frog-kick,” decreasing my glide and efficiency.

         When we reached the anchor cable, I grabbed on and just began pulling myself lower and lower, hand over hand over hand. There were no issues with pressure for me and I didn’t need to stop to clear, so I just kept on going to the bottom. The thermocline was apparent before reaching the bottom, but after the initial shock, it was refreshing. We swam around for a bit, with Jason attached to me with a buddy line—feeling each other out on what would be the best way for me to enjoy a dive, as I tend to suck a lot of air just using my upper body to propel me. We made our way back to the anchor line, and started the ascent. Reaching our decompression stop, we were holding on, watching the current, and the fish swimming around us—I remembered I was paralyzed again. While swimming, it takes that feeling away—as my body is stretched out, free. The ability for me to move in a three-dimensional space without a mobility-assist—Huge.

         We made our way back to the boat; and just as easy as we figured out how to get in the water, we found a way to get me back in the boat. After inflating my BC, the two guys topside simply grabbed me under the shoulder and sat me on the deck in the reverse order we did before, back into my chair. We discussed how the dive went, and made some notes for the next one, while we were waiting on the rest of the divers to surface.

         The great thing about diving is there is always something you can do to improve or learn from your last time. It’s much like going to the gym—the constant slow progression of achieving greatness. It becomes a long steady progression that allows you to grow and see gains along the way. Diving is set up much the same way. You can get certified in many other specialties while becoming an overall better diver. There is always room for improvement or something to work on.

         Before making our way to the second dive, the rocking of the boat had me again, and I immediately motioned to Tom for the bucket. After my offering to the “chum gods,” I felt better, and was ready to enter the water again. We did our second Nitrox dive, and much like the first time of getting me prepared, it went like butter. Like everything in life, repetition…repetition.

         We swam around, and it felt good to get a good upper body cardio session and some good weightlessness. Some minor adjustments were made to the gear and the leg strap setup; but for the most part, we had a good handle on what gear would work best for me, and began to dial in my kit. Upon reaching the surface, I again made an offering to the “chum gods,” and felt better. I knew I was going to need a Zofran prescription if this was going to keep happening, as I loved diving too much to quit.

         We got back to the harbor, and once again, just like in reverse order “the three amigos” lifted me up to the dock in my chair, and we off loaded the boat. I was super tired after two dives to my deepest depth yet—70ft and on Nitrox. I was just pushing the boundaries more and more—and that’s what scuba is to me. Taking your comfort level, and each time extending it just a little more than the last. It Builds upon your previous experiences, and grows you as a diver.

 

         Those of us who are adaptive scuba divers have an entirely different set-up and set of protocols in addition to our normal dive duties. Wheelchairs, cushions, changing after dive—all the things that the able-bodied diver doesn’t have to think about, must also be taken into account. I have found that creating a mental check list much like I do when I dive and going over my equipment beforehand helps to alleviate any stresses that may arise. Having that list of things you need to do over and over, like many of the tasks we were taught in the military, it just becomes second nature.

Brian S. Air Force TACP

June, 2018

         I was able to get my open water scuba certification done in Key West, and knew I had found a new passion. I came back home to the Panhandle; and, as usual, life got busy. I knew I wanted to get involved with the local dive community, however it found me. While attending the wall signing for Bobby Dove’s new home, I mentioned I was just certified. Bobby reached out to me with Rick Hayes shortly after, and asked if I wanted to go out that weekend. I had already made plans, and was heading out of town again; but wanted to link up as soon as I got back. Rick said he would be out of town, but would set me up with Jason; who would check me over in the pool, and see what we had previously come up with in the way of adaptations.

         I arrived at Emerald Coast Scuba, and was immediately greeted by the amazing Anna smiling ear to ear—so excited that I was there. Jason came out and introduced himself, and it turns out that we were stationed in the same unit in Alaska and didn’t know it. I am sure we had mutual friends, as it always happens. We chatted for a little while, and Jason got a feel for what we would need for my legs—as I told him how we had, after several days in the pool, determined a good setup using bungees or straps.

         We made our way through the shop, and I was introduced to Tom, Sean, and a few of the other dive masters who were just coming in from a trip. Everyone was very welcoming and excited to see me there. Jason began formulating a plan for equipment that he wanted to put together, and we made our way to the pool. I went over with Jason the best way to get myself seated at the edge and how to don the equipment best. We went over the plan, then executed. Once I was fitted and adjusted, we made our way to the bottom of the pool to check out my basic watermanship skills, such as clear my mask. And breathing from my secondary and alternate air sources.  Once Jason saw I could sit at the bottom and complete these tasks, we started to tweak the gear. Anna grabbed a pair of swim gloves which helped me move with a little more glide. We sized the BC, and tried a couple of different styles as well as different masks.

         Jason felt comfortable on my checkout, and made some notes of what we would need for my next open water dive.  We were going to complete my Nitrox Certification. I continued to get some bubble therapy in the pool; and Anna, Jason, and Pat helped lift me out of the pool—and we did a debriefing. Everyone was pleased, and Jason was excited to get me out on the first thing they could get in the Gulf—after seeing how well I felt and he felt with it.

         The several hours I ended up spending there that afternoon getting to know everyone, and them getting to know me, I realized I had found my dive family. It really truly felt like a home and a family to me with everyone so willing to help get me in the water and experience freedom and independence outside of my wheelchair—the ability to move when and where I want to move. Those who have never lost this will never truly understand the level of freedom that diving brings physically and mentally.  Emerald Coast Scuba and Task Force Poseidon were ecstatic to help me attain this again.

Jason D. Army Ranger

I am positioned on the starboard gunwale near the stern of the AQUANAUT: an historical vessel that has been running dive trips in Destin for many years, and is the ideal dive platform. It is hot and humid, but cruising at roughly ten knots with the gulf breeze lightly blowing from the North; and less than one foot seas is rather comfortable. After departing the docks, maneuvering through the harbor, making the turn around Norriego Point, and traveling through the Pass, we are now on the open water in the Gulf of Mexico. A few dolphins are breeching and soaring over the wake behind the boat. I look over my left shoulder down into the water, and there is a dolphin right below me; somehow keeping the same exact pace as the boat. It rolls on its side, and I can clearly see that it is staring into my eyes. It seems as though it is trying to tell me something. This is a very surreal moment—I am mesmerized. And just like that, the dolphins are gone. As I stare out over the horizon, I am briefly detached and not completely aware of my surroundings. I reflect on my life, and how grateful I am to even be here in this moment. Then, the mate yells to let me know that we are less than a half mile from the dive site, and I snap back to reality.

         Now I need to focus. I’m all rigged up as I run through final pre-dive checks with my dive buddy. My gas is on, my computer is set, my mask is hanging around my neck; and I’m staring between my fins thinking about how amazing I will feel as soon as my head submerges. I hear those two big caterpillars slow to an idle, and feel my body shift forward, as the bow drops a few feet. Other divers begin to stir, and the mate hits the deck to assist divers with their rigs. Yet my dive buddy and I are already staged for when the time comes to bail. I don my mask, secure my regulator, and get a final OK from my dive buddy, as I look up to the bridge; anxiously awaiting the green light from the captain. I watch as he circles the dive site looking for the perfect spot. His precision and skill are intriguing and impressive. The mate is not throwing the hook. We are buoy diving due to the distance we anticipate covering.  Thus we will be conducting a free descent with only a visual reference; no anchor line to grasp for control. Between the captain and mate, they have the keenest eyes on the water, and are never complacent. They are prepared to react to anything. This dive will essentially be a reconnaissance, for this is a rather large site and we have never dived it before. This only adds to the mystique and aura. I see a lot of action on the bottom machine, and there is no verbal communication necessary—just a couple of flicks of the wrist with a pointed finger from the Captain, and I give my dive buddy a tap, “it’s time to roll!!!”

         As I lean back and begin to fall into the water, I feel a very calming and soothing feeling throughout my body. I hit the water, get into a head down position, and exhale all of the air from my lungs as I begin my descent. I approach twenty feet, and begin to essentially free-fall through the second atmosphere. I feel almost as though I am flying, in a way. I look to my left, and there is my dive buddy gliding next to me. A slight nod of the head simultaneously from each is enough to say, “I got your six, and I’m good to go.”  …Forty, fifty, sixty feet…now I am starting to get a visual of the bottom topography at just over one hundred feet.  It is a natural limestone reef—my favorite kind of dive site, and this is one I have never explored. A large school of Jacks come barreling, through apparently unperturbed by our presence. …Seventy, eighty, ninety feet…I begin to slowly draw on my regulator in good control of my breathing; and gradually cant my body belly down into a horizontal position. As the air fills my lungs, I become perfectly neutral, and plane out. I have arrived. Any negative thoughts have left me at the surface, and I have not a worry in the world. I feel completely free in this underwater world—there is no place I’d rather be. I am weightless, all I can hear is my breath, and I am fully in-tune with my surroundings. Life is good. Without getting into every detail along the way, (it would take several pages, but I will leave it at this), we have an extraordinary dive navigating this reef with so many amazing sightings. 

         I give my dive buddy a “thumbs up,” and we begin our ascent only when our nitrogen load has neared its limit. We ascend together to fifteen feet, and I flash the “OK” signal to my dive buddy, who reciprocates. As we hover there motionless, I quiet my mind and try to relive what I’ve seen on this dive. For in three minutes, my head will crack the surface, and this dive will be logged.  These pleasant memories I will replay over and over in my mind until I have the opportunity to immerse myself again. No matter how many dives I make, I always see or experience something incredible. At the end of the day, with a few dives in the book, my head is filled with positive thoughts. I just had the opportunity to share some amazing experiences with others, and will do my best to keep that in the forefront of my mind until the next opportunity for some bottom time. There is a bond shared amongst divers sub-surface that translates to a strong sense of camaraderie on the dive boat. Everybody is telling tales of their own personal account of the dive, and the imagination is running wild. I could write forever about my diving experiences and the positive impact they have had on my life. However, it should be physically experienced to fully feel the effect. 

         Anna and Tom, and the crew of Emerald Coast Scuba are like family to me. If it weren’t for these amazing people, I would not be here today. They are all positive, upbeat and friendly, and they truly helped save my life. I am forever grateful that they have not only afforded me the opportunity to do what I love; but even more importantly, we get to share the positive impact and experiences with others. There are no words powerful enough to express my sincere gratitude to you all. Thank you for everything you have done Emerald Coast Scuba!!! Rick Hayes, founder of Task Force Poseidon, has created something incredible. The time and tireless effort he has put into making this all a reality is highly admirable and motivating. His foundation has teamed up with Emerald Coast Scuba, and some amazing things are happening. We have had the privilege and honor to dive with several veterans with varying types of injuries—single, double, and triple amputees; paraplegics, and also those who struggle with invisible wounds. It is so inspiring to see someone with these serious injuries moving so freely and independently in the water, and the subsequent positive impact that it very clearly has is highly rewarding. Many have spoken of the positive impact diving has had on their lives, and there is absolutely no greater feeling or reward than to help facilitate and witness another to share in these experiences. No matter the setback, we will find a way. Rick, it is truly amazing what you have done, and I can’t thank you enough for allowing me to take part. Your drive and desire to help others will change lives for the better without a doubt. You are truly an inspiration!

Jason D.
Army Ranger